Vision's homeless shelter for chickens gets plucked - for now

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


chickens back in the news
Sun cover March '09: Vision's chickens are back in the news with scuttled shelter plan

It's official, Vision's plans to build a $20,000 homeless shelter for abandoned backyard chickens appears to be put on hold. I'd been hearing from City staff for weeks now that the City Manager's office was never going to permit this shelter to be built. If you recall, the whole concept of allowing backyard chickens was hatched up by Coun. Andrea Reimer early in this term.

Janet Brown from CKNW News did on this story last evening. You'll split a gut listening to it – guaranteed! (mp3)

If Penny Ballem had signed off on this project the NPA candidates would have had free range to mock Vision during the upcoming election. It's not too far-fetched to think that the NPA's mayoral candidate would want to use the homeless shelter as the backdrop for his/her campaign kickoff.

It might have gone something like this... "Ladies and gentlemen, while our Stanley Park petting zoo was closed, arts funding was slashed, millions spent on a separated bike lane that few people use, staff were laid off and homelessness increased by 12%...this Mayor and his Vision colleagues thought it was a priority to build a homeless shelter for chickens. I say they've got their priorities all wrong!"

And so it goes.

Well, it looks like the NPA's mayoral candidate and his or her team won't get the chance to use the chicken homeless shelter as part of their media strategy, cause it ain't going to get built. Yesterday we received a confirmation email from Tom Hammel:

Hammel, Tom <>
cc "Stewart, Wendy" <>
Date Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM
Subject: FW: Shelter for abandoned chickens

Wendy passed this along to me.

Council approved the funding for a chicken coop at the Animal Shelter when they approved the program. There is no directive from senior management to put the project on hold. However, prior to spending money on such a shelter, we thought it would be prudent to gain some experience with the program to determine whether the construction of a facility was actually needed. To date, our experience has been that we don't have a need a coop. In 2010, Animal Control took in about 15 chickens. We have developed contacts with hobby farmers and others that have taken the chickens from us when they come in, so they are not around for long periods, and we can house them in spare dog kennels until they are placed. We will continue monitoring the situation and if the number of chickens coming in increases, or we aren't able to place them easily, then we may consider building an appropriate facility.

One thing to keep in mind is that we do not take chickens from residents that no longer want them. We tell residents that it is up to them to place chickens that they no longer want to keep. So the chickens that we come across are strays.

Hope that helps.

Tom Hammel, P.Eng.
Assistant Director, Licenses & Animal Control Division
and Deputy Chief License Inspector
City Of Vancouver
Licenses & Inspections
Tel: 604.873.7545 Email:

So as you can see, the rumours that the chicken homeless shelter was put on hold appear to be true. However, according to Hammel, the reason they didn't build it was not due to a directive from the City Manager's office, but rather, it's because they didn't find enough stray chickens to warrant it.

You could argue that Vision Vancouver have become synonymous with urban chickens because of their insistence on making this a cornerstone of their 'green' plans for the city. It will be interesting to see how voters feel about Vision's chickens in November.

- Post by Daniel


Common sense trumps ideology. Thank you staff.

"we do not take chickens from residents that no longer want them"

Typical politicians: promising a chicken in every pot, then refusing to take them back when it turns out they're not wanted. Fowl play all around

Well at least their plans to get rid of the children's petting zoo in Stanley Park to make way for a bicycle hub is still a possibility.

I guess cyclists can vote (apparently 1000 times for every actual cyclist) and children can't....makes me SICK.

That had to be the best( funniest/saddest) Vancouver Sun front page I've ever seen.

Gangsters back on the street
Chickens in the backyard.

I remember when it came out wondering what on earth was going on in this province.

Too much dope smoking?

Next, bovines on the boulevard.

It is interesting.

Backyard chickens are not new to the city.

Back in 1978, a woman took the city to court over keeping backyard chickens.

She was on welfare and wanted to raise them as a source of food/protein for her family. She sued the city and won.

So why this 'bylaw' was not previously on the books somewhere is surprising.

interesting point...

@ Jason

Newsflash, children do ride bicycles. In fact, many of them love to ride bicycles. Sadly, in many areas of the city, there is no place for children to ride bicycles. Fortunately, the city is starting to make streets safer for children on bikes (and walking and playing for that matter) by installing traffic calming. I've also noticed parents with children using the separated bike lanes.

Unfortunately, many posters on CC don't seem to want a city that it is safe for children to cycle in.

It is also rather tiresome of people who are anti-bike lane to make every issue about the bike lanes. Give it a rest already!

This is pathetic and I actually thought it was a joke.

It is clear to anyone with half a brain that this mayor and his vision council care more about bike lanes and chickens then kids and pedestrians.

I can name at least 40 people off the top of my head that voted for this mayor and council and will never make that mistake again.

This mayor and vision council's attempt at green social engineering has failed and we the taxpayers of Vancouver are left holding the bag.

I guess Gregor will just move back to California where he spent the first 40 years of his life.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the bike lane on the other side...
Chickens are so not the issue this coming election. An albatross around Vision's neck is...the Hornby bike lane fiasco. Look to VV to soft-pedal the issue as November nears. Rope-a-dope.This video might help people to understand what is wrong with the Hornby infrastrucure.

Real issues of far more importance:
1)Vision's antidemocratic tendencies, from strangulation of FOI requests, to statements indicating admiration of a totalitarian regime, to cramming reports shortly before meetings to limit public input.
2)The Olympic Village fiasco
3)The School Board's whipsawing of parents and students over school closures.
4)The Bloedel Conservatory fiasco and subsequent purging of senior Park's Board staff in it's aftermath.
5)Cutbacks to library's and community center's hours.
6)Upcoming union negotiations
7)The continuing saga of the Olympic Village-see 1).

Brilliant UTube Gerry! Let's not forget that one. I've bookmarked it.

Your list is to short...

Vision's version of the fabled election promise is "A car in every pot (hole) and a chicken in every garage..."

You know what is kind of sad, a week ago I had relatives visiting from Prince George.

My little auntie and uncle who are in their late 70's brought up 'the city's homeless chicken shelter'

They could not believe we would spend $20K on a chicken shelter.

This is what Vancouver is showing to the rest of the province as far as leadership goes.

I am proud Vncouverite, but how do you defend the actions of your city during these 'topics' of conversation.

Some quick thoughts -

My family kept chickens in downtown Tokyo for years. Enjoyed the eggs and the fertilizer was useful. I have many friends in Tokyo, architects, investors, artists, engineers who still keep chickens in Tokyo today. It is a great thing and I expect I will eventually have them in Vancouver as well. Your attempts to ridicule this show you up as narrow minded. Urban agriculture is a big part of the future.

I have been hit three times on Hornby without the bike lanes. This investment saves lives and may well help to save mine. I will support anyone, NPA, Vision who can show a way to a much more pedestrian, cycling and transit friendly city. I also lived in Copenhagen for a few years and the cycling infrastructure there is something for us to aspire to.

I have trouble understanding what the NPA sees for the future of Vancouver. Have trouble seeing what CityCaucus sees as the future of Vancouver as well.

Urban gardens, chickens, bike lanes - you sounds like the direction I want to see the city go in. Let's see if we can have a city with positive net primary production.

Richard...thank you for enlightening me on children. My children truly appreciate it. I know its bike loving children like my own that have on numerous occasions said to me "daddy, this petting zoo is great, but what I REALLY want is a bike rental hub in Stanley park."

When I was told that city council was thinking of replacing the petting zoo with a bike hub I honestly said "there is no way they are that stupid"....unfortunately I was wrong.

Oh and Richard I also appreciate you once again refering to me as anti-cycle...again proving that anyone who dare even question the never ending cycling infrastructure is labelled anti-cycle.

My kids and my bike truly thank you for your enlightened comments.

@ Jason:

From what I have read on another blog site, Robertson is stepping away from committing to any more bike projects in 2011. I guess the heat over the Hornby lane along with an election year have made them back peddle.

May I offer the city a free option for taking in the homeless chickens?

I have an excellent location available right now:

My deep fryer!

If you are right Jason that is really too bad. Vancouver needs to invest a lot more in cycling infrastructure. We have far too much of our valuable space given over to cars and parking. It is one reason the streets are so dead here. This is a massive subsidy to car drivers and I am tired of paying it. I pay taxes in this city too and I think that cars get way too much land, cause too much wear and tear on the roads and that they kill too many people.

Hi Jason - "Never-ending cycling infrastructure"? Wow, I must live in another city, there is almost no cycling infrastructure in the Vancouver I live in. We need multiples more than we have now. There is a lot of car infrastructure though. I would of liked to see the petting zoo stay though, I was looking forward to visiting it with my grandchildren (first one comeing this year).

Hi Gerry

How would you better integrate bicycles into the city streets? What other things would you like to see as part of an NPA (or other party) platform?

You are right's been a very slow year for cyclists.

$25 million for cycling infrastructure but $250,000 for a petting zoo for families and kids is too much to ask.

Given the lack of use of the horny bike lane since opening, how about we take the chickens and put them there and the kids can pet them.

This city is truly going to the birds....

So if we eliminate motorized transport of people and goods, perhaps even banning private vehicle ownership, we prevent climate change, destroy the evil trans-national oil and steel companies, grow a year's worth of organic food on 5-10,000 sq. ft. yard during a 110-day season (in a good year), pay lower taxes and haul our 65-year-old asses around on bikes, all with a positive impact on our resource-based economy? If only we could outlaw poverty, ignorance, hatred and disease, end hunger and stop the arms race at the same time. Hand me that twelve-string guitar.

In that scenario today's youth face two possible careers: government employee or shop steward of the yoga instructors union.

You only have to grow food in the city when you have paved over all of your farmland with roads and houses and backyards. Most of our food is already produced, packaged and transported in the most efficient way possible on the most productive land in the world. In many cases agricultural exports are all that supports many of the world's poorest nations. It's hard to see what Council, with no expertise and a clear and fairly narrow bias, can add to the equation beyond more posturing.

Americans (and quite a few Canadians) believe that Canadians like to be bossed around. It's a cultural thing. Those of British heritage tug the forelock instinctively (Guv'nor, milord, yer 'ighness), immigrants don't want any trouble, the East is on welfare, the West is practically uninhabited and don't get me started on the French.

So let's limit personal choice whenever possible on the grounds of health or safety or morality or budget constraints or the environment or you-name-it. Ban practically everything and require a licence and regular inspections for everything else.

What's crucial is that some bumbling politician gets to decide what you can eat or read or believe or see or say or, ultimately, do. You, Joe Citizen, are deluded, or not in possession of all the facts or have been misinformed or brainwashed by slick marketing and simply aren't capable of deciding what's in your own best interest. But Gregor Robertson and Kerry Jang and Tim Stevenson etc. are.

Amen to that!

Steven, do we really need more cycling infrastructure? I was downtown along Hornby Street Friday morning at rush hour. I was surprised at the lack of cyclists on the route. A grand total of one bike was chained to the stands at Hornby and Georgia.

I guess they're chicken.

"You are right's been a very slow year for cyclists.

$25 million for cycling infrastructure but $250,000 for a petting zoo for families and kids is too much to ask."

Not sure where you are getting the $25 million figure from Jason unless you are referring to the budget for the City's master cycling plan, which covers the next ten years. On the other hand, the $250,000... you are referring to its operating deficit? Further, the cycling funding covers the entire city. A more apples to apples comparison would be to compare funding levels for the ten year cycling plan stacked up against the Park Board's budget for interactive exhibits and attractions for the next ten years. I am doubtful the big difference in total dollars spent would still be as large.



You have nicely summarized the Progressives' objectives and so far they are succeeding. Unfortunately, (at the risk of sounding like boohoo), at best the NPA is the lesser of two evils, like choosing the federal Liberal Party over the NDP. Perhaps the best thing for the long term would be another term for Vision and hope a positive alternative to both the NPA and Vision emerges.


It does take some time to build traffic, whether it be automobile, bike, transit or pedestrian on new facilities. People need time to discover it and make any adjustments needed to integrate it into their daily lives.

The Burrard Bridge is an example of that. When it first opened, there was hardly any traffic on it. Are you suggesting that it should not have been built just because there were few people using it soon after it opened. I suspect not but please clarify.

Here is an old photo of the bridge. It certainly looks like there is not enough traffic to justify such a wide bridge.

Yes, at times there are few bikes on it but other times it has a lot of bikes on it. Last week, at around 3:30, there were around 10 cyclists at Hornby and Georgia. Lets at least judge it by the actually counts the city is taking and the increase in bicycle use over the previous painted bike lane. This is how best to judge the success of any infrastructure.

To clarify, the $25 million for bicycle related infrastructure comes from capital plan funds allocated for cycling, greenways and streets which was approved by the last NPA dominated council and approved by voters in the last election. Without making a judgement on the petting zoo, it would not have been appropriate and I suspect not even legally possible for this funding to have been used for the petting zoo.

And I have mentioned before, children ride bikes and much of this $25 million will help make the city safer for children to cycle around.

And in my spare time I can bring peace to the world.

I think the roughly quarter million dollar alleged shortfall applied to the Bloedel and the farmyard together, the farmyard being about half that sum. It is claimed, however, that no staff are losing their jobs so the closure of the latter will not really produce much of a saving at all, particularly if the buildings remain a city responsibility. Conversion to another use would, of course, represent a significant extra cost to taxpayers.

As no effort has ever been made to explain that the potential saving by closure is much less than the subsidy, I tend to view these figures with some scepticism. Like the supposed poor condition of both buildings they seem created to conveniently support a predetermined agenda.

"Not sure where you are getting the $25 million figure from Jason unless you are referring to the budget for the City's master cycling plan"

I love it when you answer your own question within the same sentence in which the question is asked.

I think vision should change their logo to a chicken riding a would be a perfect fit.

The point Jason is that the comparison of the two price tags isn't a useful way to assess the decision to close the petting zoo. A better example would be to choose one cycling outreach program geared to children in the city and see how it compares price-wise to the petting zoo, as well as number of participants, level of city funding etc.

The point you are missing Chris is that children can still have their bicycles without the benefit of an outreach program and learn from siblings, parents, friends just like kids have been doing for the last 50 years. Not so easy to access animals in the city like they did at the petting zoo unless you feel that their parents building a chicken coop at home is a reasonable substitute.

Thank you for being the voice of reason, I totally agree for many years parents have enjoyed the pleasure of teaching their children how to ride a well there have always been summer day camps that teach as well...

All those people who learned to ride a bike from Mom or Dad are the exact same people the anti-cycling commenters chastise for not knowing the rules. Too funny. Anyway, the real criticism leveled at jason's comment was the apples to oranges nature of his attempt at equivalency. Whether or not a child is better served by road safety education or a chance to pet a lamb is aseparate (but entirely worthwhile) conversation.

Register, road test cyclists: Make 'em accountable

Sticker program helps deter thefts, ID those in mishaps

By Jon Ferry, The Province January 17, 2011 Comments (33)

* Story
* Photos ( 1 )

Province metro affairs columnist Jon Ferry

Province metro affairs columnist Jon Ferry
Photograph by: File photo, The Province

Bicyclists in New York may soon need a sticker to ride, if a city council member there has his way.

In a bid to rein in rogue riders, Eric Ulrich, a Republican from Queens, wants adult cyclists in the Big Apple to fork over a small fee and affix an ID tag to their vehicles.

Last Friday, Ulrich was reported in the New York Post as saying bike riders often scare the hell out of seniors and don't have proper identification on them when accidents happen.

"There seems to be a double standard when it comes to enforcing the traffic laws," he noted.

Predictably, this upset cycling advocates. But I agree with Ulrich that, in both Vancouver and New York City, cyclists are getting a soft ride and public safety is being compromised.

Let's backtrack a bit. Cycling is cyclical; it's gone in and out of fashion since the so-called golden age of cycling in the 1890s.

Now, with a pedal-pushing mayor in the driver's seat, Vancouver city hall has gone bike mad. It pumps out a stream of pro-cycle propaganda, including the claim that "cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers."

When the rubber hits the road, however, cyclists don't have the same duties as motorists. They don't have to take a road test, get a driver's licence, register and insure their bikes and display a licence plate or other ID. And I think they should.

I mean, if taxpayers have to pay millions for bike lanes, shouldn't operators of these vulnerable vehicles be required to have a rudimentary knowledge of our road rules?

As North Vancouver resident Anthony Buckland points out, anyone seems to be able to hop on a bike and behave as he or she sees fit.

"I have never heard of any cyclist anywhere in our local paper's reporting areas being stopped by police, charged with anything and being obliged to pay a fine or suffer other penalties," Buckland, a retired computer analyst, wrote to the North Shore News.

Vancouver Coun. Suzanne Anton of the Non-Partisan Association, an avid cyclist, told me Friday that a registration system for cyclists would mean "way too much bureaucracy." And Arno Schortinghuis, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, said cycling is too worthwhile for barriers to be put in its way.

But what is more important than safety? Why do we licence everything from dogs to boats, but not bikes?

Newspaper records show compulsory bike licensing in Vancouver dates to 1938, and has fallen in and out of fashion ever since.

Former Vancouver council member George Puil remembers that, when he was a teen in 1945, his bike had to be registered. "It was a sticker that was put on the frame just behind the front wheel," he told me.

Puil, though, now says such a licensing system would be too costly. But the city of Madison, Wis., clearly doesn't agree with him. It says its bike-registration program helps in everything from theft deterrence to rider identification in case of an accident.

Vancouver cyclists demand to be recognized as full citizens of the road. They should earn that privilege, just like other road users.
© Copyright (c) The Province

I think this thread would be more useful discussing the petting zoo over Jon Ferry's attempts to generate controversy by touting unworkable, unnecessary red tape for a crisis that doesn't exist.


By Chris keam in response to Vision's homeless shelter for chickens gets plucked - for now

All those people who learned to ride a bike from Mom or Dad are the exact same people the anti-cycling commenters chastise for not knowing the rules. Too funny. Anyway, the real criticism leveled at jason's comment was the apples to oranges nature of his attempt at equivalency. Whether or not a child is better served by road safety education or a chance to pet a lamb is aseparate (but entirely worthwhile) conversation.

"All those people who learned to ride a bike from Mom or Dad are the exact same people the anti-cycling commenters chastise for not knowing the rules."

Oh what a pile of garbage. I would venture to guess that 90% of the cyclists on the road today have never even heard of a cycling outreach program. We all learned on our own or from our parents and the vast majority of us manage just fine Chris. It is a select few that ruin it for everyone else, and it's not due to a lack of a cycle outreach program but a lack of respect...and more time with mom and dad might have helped with that too.

Oh and for the record chris, you're the one making the equivalency argument, not me. I was simply stating that the city will find the money for anything bike related but couldn't find the $$ for a much loved family area.

Richard, I often liked biking with my kids through Stanley park to get to the petting zoo....some of us liked doing both. I know for a fact my kids did.

The Thought of The Midnight

"Mark my words. After November’s election, Jasper, Robertson, Solomon and the rest of the Vision punks are going to be remembered as ‘The Men who stare at Goats’! Stanley Park Children Farm's Goats.”

Chris, I said it before, you are the funniest.
I really think you are working too hard, it’s like you are working for two people...Laurel and Hardy. (honestly I wanted to use this one on Gregor, but you earned it, fair and square).

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.


"It is a select few that ruin it for everyone else"

Why do you let a minority ruin something for you? There are absolutely horrible drivers out there, why doesn't that taint your view of drivers?

There are absolutely horrible lawyers out there, why doesn't that select few ruin it for the rest?

This whole bike lanes bs is just an easy way to complain. It's so blown out of proportion it's mindboggling.


Actually boohoo I was stating that from the perspective of a cyclists. We have a bunch of people who complain about cyclists (I'm not one of them) and the way they ride, who feel that we should license them, etc...I don't agree with that point of view. However, a few bad apples have caused this reaction, and it's adversely affecting cyclists and heated the rhetoric. I personally believe, and agree that there are ABSOLUTELY more bad apple drivers.

I am not "anti-cyclist" in the slightest..I may not agree with all cycling related decisions that city council makes (or its apparent myopic focus on cycling), but I've never met a cyclist I didn't like...but then again, I've never personally met Chris Keam. (oh come on, I couldn't resist!)

Cyclists are injuring toddlers and killing the elderly and riding away without consequences for their behaviour. To suggest in any way shape or form that it is not time to license cyclists is beyond irresponsible, it is insane.

Gerry--you're joking...right? I hope?

Killing the elderly and injuring toddlers know I hear that cyclists spit on babies and kick over people on crutches too!

Actually Gerry, nothing personal, but I think your comment is far more insane than the lack of licensing for cyclists.

"Cyclists are injuring toddlers and killing the elderly and riding away without consequences"

Any chance someone has statistics on how often a cyclists is involved in a fatality or serious accident of any sort and don't stop? I'm guessing it's an INCREDIBLY low percentage. We focus on the 1% because that's what's reported...not the 99% where the cyclist stops.

And if they did have a license, what's to stop them from still just riding me, the whole licensing debate is ridiculous....sorry.

Again, a few bad apples are leading to this sort of thought process.

Check out!

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